Exactly a decade ago, our very own Coen Brothers, the men in white, Abbas-Mustan, gave Bollywood one of its last legitimate edge-of-the-seat thrillers. Okay, some people would argue about Kahaani (2012) and even the unfairly overlooked Kahaani 2 (2016), but these thrillers were woven around the personal battle of an emotionally wrought woman, and director Sujoy Ghosh articulately mixed the nail-biting narrative of his whodunits with the part-mysterious part-colourful city of Kolkata.
But the thrill here signifies those extravagant, over-the-top and larger-than-life thrillers that most of us grew up watching in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Hailed as the pioneers of the aforementioned genre, this director duo commonly looked to the West for inspiration and gave their films their own masala touch. The directors’ Race is one such example, inspired by the 1999 Hollywood thriller, Goodbye Lover, Abbas-Mustan adapted the theme of sex and subterfuge and cleverly mixed it with the Indian narrative.
If you have seen the director duo, they appear to be very simple people, and if one were told they were film directors, he would presumably think they are contemporary versions of Sai Paranjpye or Basu Chatterjee, but no, till Race, they could have been called as the modern avatars of Ramesh Sippy or Manmohan Desai, with every frame dripping with visual extravaganza, high-octane action, and delightfully hammy performances.
The above elements are exactly the reasons why Race is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable films of the last decade, a perfect concoction of every element required to make a delicious suspense thriller. Now, the question is, was this Abbas-Mustan’s last watchable film? Quite evident because they went on to make duds like Players (2012) and Machine (2017), and Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon (2015), an out-an-out comedy. As far as Race 2 (2013) is concerned, it may have been a box office hit, it was no match to the unpredictable twists and turns that powered the first film.
Now Race 3 is releasing on the 15th of June this year, with Salman Khan replacing Saif Ali Khan and Abbas-Mustan being replaced by Remo D’ Souza. Will it be as enjoyable as the first film? Time to wait and watch.
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